Alameda County Board of Supervisors Considers Tax To Fund Medical Center
Some members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors said on Wednesday that they may propose a March 2004 ballot initiative for a parcel or sales tax to fund the county medical center, which on Monday announced plans to cut services at its clinics and trauma center amid a $45.7 million budget deficit, the Oakland Tribune reports. Alameda County Medical Center CEO Kenneth Cohen on Monday introduced a plan to the center's finance committee that would close the Highland Hospital trauma center, the Eastmont Wellness Center and health clinics in Hayward and Newark. The plan also would eliminate 450 jobs at the medical center and would deny treatment to patients at Highland Hospital who cannot afford to pay on a sliding scale; the medical center's board of trustees is scheduled to vote on the proposed cuts next Monday (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 6/26). In addition, the medical center board in April voted to close all eight of its outpatient clinics at Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro and at Central Health Center in Oakland; two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit earlier this month to stop the closure of the facilities (California Healthline, 6/18). The facilities are slated to close today. According to the Tribune, the proposed cuts would "transform the center from a comprehensive health system serving the poor to a bare-bones emergency center." The medical center cuts would affect other area hospitals, especially the Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley -- the only other trauma center in Alameda County. In an effort to keep the medical center facilities open, the county has hired an Oakland political consultant to research public support for the proposed tax. County Chief Counsel Richard Winnie said the county is committed to keeping the facilities "viable and available" (Oakland Tribune, 6/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.